COLUMNISTS

Remembering the old home place on cold, winter mornings

Jerry Apps
It was a dash down to the warm wood stove on cold winter mornings in the Apps' farmhouse.

Every old house has a story to tell. I was born in the house pictured here. It had five bedrooms, a kitchen, dining room, and a parlor (living room). But no bathroom as we had no running water. Nor did we have electricity until I was in high school.

In early November, dad closed off most of the house as it had no central heating. It had a wood burning cookstove in the kitchen and a Round Oak wood burning stove in the dining room. The only rooms heated were the kitchen, dining room and one downstairs bedroom. The upstairs bedroom where my brothers and I slept had indirect heat—the stove pipe from the dining room stove thrust through our bedroom and into the brick chimney.

When the stoves went out around midnight, a great chill came over the house, especially if the outside temperature had dipped to thirty below zero. Frost covered the inside of our upstairs bedroom windows, so much that we couldn’t see outside. The frost took many shapes, often resembling giant ferns.

Being the oldest, I had to get up at 5:30 for the morning milking. I would grab up my clothes and rush down the frigid hallway, and down the stairs to dress in front of the wood stove that dad had started before leaving for the barn. I didn’t warm up until I arrived in the barn, where it was always warm.

I have many memories associated with that house. Most of them good. Except for the cold winter mornings.

THE OLD TIMERS SAYS: Take time to think about the house you lived in when you were a kid. You may be surprised at what memories that result.

Jerry Apps

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work, go to www.jerryapps.com.